Syndicate Demo Impressions

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Early yesterday, the demo for the upcoming shooter Syndicate was released to the general online public for download.  EA and developer Starbreeze have put out quite a few trailers and gameplay videos for the game, but how well does the demo perform?

To be honest, I had very little interest in Syndicate when it was first announced.  I had never played the original, and couldn’t really find myself giving another shooter the benefit of the doubt.  Regardless, I decided to give the demo a few playthroughs and see how the game separated itself from the pack.

The demo allows you to play the “Western Europe” map with up to three other friends.  Your main goal is to infiltrate Cayman Global, steal valuable information, shoot some bad guys, and kill Colonel Enrico Gabron.  Sounds easy, right?

Wrong.  Even playing the demo on normal will pose a challenge to veteran first-person shooter fans.  Enemies will bombard you from just about everywhere, and they’ll come find you if you’re hiding behind a wall.  In generation of mindless enemies and mindless shooting gallery style levels, you have to applaud Starbreeze on the enemy AI.

As you progress through the levels, you’ll notice a few nifty things available for the “L1” or “LB” button.  If a player on your team has been shot and has lost some of their health, you can use that button to heal them if you’re within a certain distance.  Performing this act will also earn you various points that help rank you on the live leaderboard.

Along with helping to boost your allies’ health, you can also interact with the environment.  The “Western Europe” mission gives you a few chances to open doors for your teammates to make it easier to flood a building and provide support, close a roof to stop snipers from shooting your squad, open walls to hide behind, and more.

The beauty of using that button is that it rewards the “smart” players for paying attention to their surroundings.  Missions that may be seemingly impossible are just that much easier to accomplish by looking for ways to take advantage of the level.

You will find a generic feel to the game when it comes to the conveniently placed “safe” rooms.  After you’ve completed the task or section at hand, you’ll advance into a room with a wall lock that requires all four players to be present.  Once all four players are present, you’ll be able to advance to the next section of the map.  Within these rooms are ammo boxes and the ability to pick-up a gun or two, but you can’t help but feel the “generic” aspect of them.

The gunplay is an acquired test at first, but feels overall feels satisfying.  It’s a little stiff and hard to control certain guns, but each gun obviously has strengths ranging from close, medium, to long range.  Each player will definitely need to play to their class’ strengths in order to ensure the team survives.

The art style and heads-up display are also impressive.  For fans of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, parts of the futuristic style levels may look similar to you but there’s a definite difference.  The heads-up display showcases bullet count, health, and more in a non-traditional way.  You’ll get a sensory overload trying to figure out everything at first, but it’s intuitive and makes sense when you finally let it all process.

For a game that I wasn’t too high on to start with, I have a feeling that I’ll be picking up Syndicate when it hits store shelves on February 21st, 2012.  What do you think of the Syndicate demo?  Are you planning on picking the game up when it launches this month?  Be sure to let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below, or discuss Syndicate in our forums!

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